The months of March and April usually herald the end of another school year, with graduation rites all over the country. My cousin graduated a few weeks ago and in true Filipino fashion, the family just had to celebrate, complete with the ubiquitous lechon. Lechon/roast pig instantly makes everything more festive and special.
My mom and I share this habit that when we’re at the buffet table, as soon as we get our plates, we dash straight to the lechon (which usually has its own little table at the end of the line) bypassing the rest of the dishes. Those come last. Now that I’m thinking about it, I probably got that habit from her.
For a long time, my favorite moment was being one of the first few who get to peel off squares of crispy skin. A real sign that the lechon has been freshly cooked is when upon helping yourself to the skin, you sometimes get a glimpse of steam wafting from the body. Underneath the skin is a layer of fat and meat, and using your fingers (which I usually do) to get the crisp skin ends with my fingertips plastered with “salty slightly oily juice”. A real treat is when you suck on your fingers for a nanosecond, just to taste the it. Hey, it’s not as disgusting as it sounds.
But I’ve also taken a liking to waiting for the people to massacre the poor pig until the ribs are exposed, then make my way to the table. The ribs absorb most of the flavors, making it probably the most fragrant, succulent, and delicious part of the whole roasted pig.
We almost always have lechon leftovers. Usually it’s made into paksiw, which is pretty standard in our household. But once in a while, when the tides sing a different song…
This post has been a long time coming. In fact, this burning desire to do something more with lechon started a few months ago, when I perused a magazine with an advertising feature that had a recipe for lechon sinigang. It was pretty frustrating that until now, I couldn’t find the said magazine with the recipe. But hey, it’s sinigang. It couldn’t be that hard right? I told myself that if my intuition will serve me right, I’ll probably avert catastrophe.
Not only was catastrophe averted, but two distinct flavors and aromas, sour sinigang broth and lemongrass-fragrant lechon, was placed in a bowl that was easily finished in one sitting. This left our tummies heavy and happy, which means we shouldn’t eat this all the time, but when we do, we superlatively indulge.
Sinigang is one of those dishes that can be adjusted to suit your taste. Ingredients and proportions do not need to be approximated to the letter; just adjust everything depending on how much leftover meat you have.
- Leftover lechon meat, excess fat trimmed and sliced into bite-sized pieces
- 6 – 8 cups water that was used to wash rice (rice washing)
- 3 – 4 medium-sized tomatoes
- 2 ½-inch ginger slices
- 2 red onions, sliced
- String beans, sliced into 3-inch long pieces (add as much as you like)
- 1 whole finger chili (optional)
- 2 10-gram sachets Sinigang sa Sampalok mix, or more if desired
- 2 cups chili leaves/tops or kangkong
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 – 2 tablespoons patis/fish sauce, or more, to taste
- Trim off any excess fat from the lechon
- In a large pot, bring rice water to a boil. Once boiling, add the tomatoes, onions and ginger. Add the lechon, string beans and finger chili.
- Continue cooking until lechon and string beans become tender, around 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and patis. Add the sinigang mix and adjust taste to your preference.
- Add the chili leaves or kangkong, and cook for 1 more minute. When done, remove from heat and serve. Enjoy!